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Estate Planning 

Document library

These are our most requested documents. At your appointment we will walk you through which options might be right for your circumstances.

I. Wills (Traditional and Pour-over)

What is a Traditional Will? A Will is a legal document that provides instructions for the distribution of the decedent's property, upon their death. 
Additionally, a Will:
1. Nominates someone to act as your Personal Representative. 
2. Names general and specific gifts/bequests.
3. Provides instructions for final remains.
4. Nominates a Guardian for any minor children.
What is a Personal Representative? A Personal Representative (called an Executor in some states) oversees the administration of the decedent’s estate. Specifically, those portions of the estate that have not been moved into a Trust at the time of the decedent’s death. Individuals can choose to name a person, an institution (e.g. a bank or trust company), or a combination of both. 
What is a Pour-over Will? A Pour-over Will is a form of Will used when a client elects to create a Trust. This form of Will essentially defers to the Trust in most regards. One of its key functions is to act as a conduit, distributing any property to your Trust that you may have forgotten to move prior to your death.

II. Revocable Living Trust

What is a Trust? A Trust is a distinct legal entity capable of holding and owning property for the benefit of its Beneficiaries. Unlike a Will, a Trust can provide instructions for assets that are ongoing and continuing in nature.
What are the benefits of a Trust? (1) They can provide for the long term benefit/care of any named beneficiary. Unlike Wills, Trusts continue to exist after your death--a feature that creates a great deal of flexibility. This benefit is of particular value for those with minor children, special needs family members, elderly dependents, or other beneficiaries. (2) You retain the ability to modify or eliminate the trust; (3) You can move property in and out of the trust, during your lifetime; (4) Your Trust lives on after your death--allowing you to avoid probate (an expensive, court-controlled process of distributing your property upon your death); (5) You maintain greater control over the distribution of your assets, than with a Will.  For example, distributions can occur at a future time or triggered by a future event (when your child reaches a certain age, graduates from college, gets married, etc.).

III. General Power of Attorney

What is a General Power of Attorney? A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives an individual (typically a spouse or loved one) the authority to act on your behalf in financial matters. The timing, circumstances, and specific powers associated with that authority are all choices that would be set forth in the body of the document. This authority can be quite broad or extremely limited, in keeping with your choosing.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney? A Durable Power of Attorney describes authority that continues to be effective regardless of the principal's mental incapacity. This distinction is one of many choices you would make with your attorney in drafting your General Power of Attorney. 
What is a Springing Power of Attorney? Much like DurableSpringing is used to describe the circumstances under which your representative's authority is effective. Specifically, Springing describes authority that only becomes effective upon the mental incapacity of the principal.

IV. Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney selects the circumstances and timing under which you would want an individual of your choosing (typically a spouse or loved one) to have the power to act on your behalf in healthcare decisions. This person would act as your proxy, if you are incapacitated or unable to communicate your preferences, and a situation arose that you have not expressly addressed in your Advance Healthcare Directive. Accordingly, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is intended as a companion document to your Advance Healthcare Directive.

V. Advance Healthcare Directive

An Advance Healthcare Directive is a document outlining your wishes concerning the medical treatments you wish to receive, as well as the ones you do not wish to receive, in an effort to prolong your life. It would spell-out the circumstances under which you would like to be kept alive artificially or be allowed to die naturally. In conjunction with these end-of-life decisions, an Advance Healthcare Directive can include stipulations such as the number of physicians required to confirm your medical prognosis and/or chance of recovery. As mentioned above, any circumstances not specifically addressed in this document would defer to the named representative holding your Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Want to know more?

Read on in our Glossary of Estate Planning!

Call to schedule an Estate Planning appointment today!

314-448-0527
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Initial consultations are always free of charge.